Every week we bring you the data and insights to understand how COVID-19 is redefining the brand and consumer landscape.


Organizations need to strengthen their understanding of brand

On Altered this week, Atlantic 57 brand strategy director Karine Bailly explores the role of brand in this era of flux and uncertainty. She posits that, for brands to succeed, “they must design not just for disruption, but for endurance. This is more than a pithy statement. It is a call to action for brands to think beyond faddish ways to turn heads and win dollars, and to instead build an ecosystem grounded in an ethical, authentic self.”

Bailly goes on to examine the importance of “what brand is not, what it is, and why it matters”—questions that seemingly have obvious answers but that are much more nuanced than you may think.

She concludes, “This is the moment for brands to rise up and matter, to drive our economy forward and, ultimately, to drive our society forward.” Check out Bailly’s full analysis on Altered for insight into how brands can accomplish these lofty and meaningful aims.


College towns risk becoming ghost towns

A forced virtual migration has intensified debate over the value colleges and universities offer. The sparsely charted world of virtual pedagogy threatens the overall educational and social experience. As Lucie Lapovsky, an education economist, details, an engaging fall semester will necessitate enormous investments in products and services, including expanded broadband capabilities, video cameras, and tuition cuts. 

But, it is not only the educational institutions themselves that are under threat: The towns that surround them are facing the reality of becoming ghost towns. Colleges and universities are vital nodes for local commerce and employment. The widespread uprooting of a fall on-campus semester has left businesses trying to find new modes of survival, with some turning to GoFoundMes and new product offerings.


CMOS move work in-house in a (perhaps futile) quest to cut spend

Gartner’s recent Annual CMO Spend Survey reveals that 44 percent of CMOS are facing budget cuts because of COVID-19. In the face of these economic headwinds, 32 percent have brought at least some agency work in-house. 

In-housing has its own implications for budgets, however: doing it well requires hiring and retaining—not to mention compensating—more top talent. As a result, it can actually be more financially risky and volatile than the model of pursuing agency contracts on an as-needed basis. And, for those brands that bring work in-house without building out their teams, they may risk putting important work on-hold.


Micro-mobility may be the future of transportation

A recent study from the McKinsey Center for Future Mobility suggests that the modes of transportation least affected by the pandemic are walking, biking, and micro-mobility (e.g., e-scooters, e-bikes). McKinsey further estimates these same categories will have the largest bump with “a return to normal life.”

These behavioral shifts portend a promising future for the micro-mobility sector. However, public infrastructure will also need to be updated for the sector to truly succeed. While sprawling highways have defined American society and economy for over a century, micro-mobility, environmentalism, and quarantines suggest that hyperlocality may be poised to be the new reality. The way forward, then, may not be a road but rather a lane or a walk.


You can travel without leaving home

COVID-19 has impacted summer vacation plans for many, but armchair travel is still an option. Check out newly released photography collections of Tennessee from The Atlantic and Vermont from The New York Times for some stunning—and socially distant—escapism.